LoCAL in Ghana combines performance-based climate resilience grants (PBCRGs) with technical and building capacity support to ensure climate change adaptation is mainstreamed into government’s planning and budgeting systems, and to increase awareness and response to climate change at the local level.
The vision for LoCAL in Ghana is to become a national mechanism to channel financial resources for the adaptation to the whole territory of Ghana in an efficient and transparent manner, through the national transfer system to local authorities, and the district Development Fund.
Because of climate change, Ghana is facing increased pressure on water, reduced yields leading to more poverty and food insecurity, and the loss of national revenue from cash crops such as cocoa. Other vulnerabilities include migration which adds pressure on urban services; deteriorating health because of increased disease; severe impacts on land use leading to loss of biodiversity and soil fertility, land degradation and increased deforestation; and exposure of fragile groups such as women and youth to climate change impacts. In 2013, Ghana launched its National Climate Change Policy, which includes the three objectives of effective adaptation, social development and mitigation. Four thematic areas have been identified to address adaptation issues in Ghana: energy and infrastructure, natural resource management, agriculture and food security, and disaster preparedness and response.
Many Metropolitan, Municipal and District Assemblies (MMDAs) are confronted with increased climate change variability and human vulnerability. More than 80 per cent of disasters in MMDAs are climate related and affect key growth and economic sectors such as agriculture, forestry and fisheries; as well as environmental sanitation, water supply and management. The National Development Planning Commission’s guidelines on preparing MMDA medium-term plans therefore incorporate climate change adaptation issues in profiling as well as in prioritizing projects – though without providing clear guidance.
As highlighted in the National Climate Change Policy, the Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development, which aims to ensure good governance and equitable development of MMDAs, plays an important role in ensuring that climate change is mainstreamed at the local level.
Objectives, results and activities
The overall outcome of LoCAL-Ghana is to improve the resilience of MMDAs to climate change as a result of increased access to climate change adaptation financing through PBCRGs. The objectives are as follows:
- Respond to the increasing impact of climate change in Ghana in accordance with local prioritized needs and vulnerabilities in a sustainable manner with sufficient consideration for the operation and maintenance of the structures supported.
- Promote robust, transparent and accountable public financial management/public expenditure management systems by providing funds to make the local planning and budgeting process meaningful, efficient, effective and participatory as well as strengthening incentives for climate change adaptation activities.
Four outputs will contribute to the achievement of these objectives:
- Effective and transparent climate change financing mechanism in place for local governments (MMDAs) through the establishment of the PBCRG system linked with the existing District Development Facility (DDF).
- Inclusive, effective and accountable climate change adaptation planning process designed and integrated in the MMDA local development planning process.
- Effective capacity development mechanism promoted to strengthen MMDA capacities for climate change adaptation.
- Climate change adaptation activities efficiently, effectively and transparently implemented and reported by participating MMDAs through the PBCRG system..
Since its launch in 2015, the PBCRG system has been successfully designed to be fully aligned with the DDF introduced in 2008 to support enhancement of MMDA capacity through a combination of capital grants, capacity development support and incentives for improved performance in – among other areas – public financial management, procurement systems, revenue mobilization and good governance. The PBCRG constitutes an average top-up of 10–15 per cent of the DDF.
Three MMDAs, with a combined population of 308,008, were selected to pilot the approach: the Fanteakwa District, the Ada East District and the Efutu Municipal Assembly. Following the first cycle of planning, budgeting and funds transfer in November 2015, the first adaptation measures and investments captured in the MMDA approved workplans commenced in June 2016 and were completed in January 2017. Upon completion of the first cycle of investments, an annual performance assessment was conducted in June 2017.
The Government of Ghana has expressed a strong desire to further mainstream adaptation activities in all procedures at the MMDA level, with a focus on strengthening district environmental committees and compliance with various environmental safeguards, as well as drawing attention to the expanding role of MMDAs in addressing climate change at the local level.
A technical assistance mission commissioned by UNCDF was organized in June 2016 to review climate information (risks, vulnerability and adaptation assessments) to inform adaptation planning and mainstreaming into local development planning and make recommendations to strengthen local capacities. Additionally, LoCAL supported the efforts of the Fiscal Decentralization Unit of the Ministry of Finance in fine-tuning its District Functional Organizational Assessment Tool (FOAT) of the DDF; this has been renamed the District Performance Assessment Tool and is being mainstreamed into national monitoring and evaluation systems.
UNCDF commissioned two technical assistance missions in 2017 and one in 2018 to design LoCAL Phase II in a consultative manner. The performance assessment system under Phase II, particularly the minimum conditions, has been further aligned with the FOAT and renamed the District Assemblies Common Fund Responsiveness Factor Grant. The design note for Phase II was endorsed by the partners and the Government of Ghana, and the country is ready to move to Phase II.
This approach led to the inclusion of climate indicators in the country’s performance-based grant system of the decentralization sector and to inclusion of climate change considerations in the forthcoming National Decentralization Policy and National Decentralization Strategy (2020- 2024).
Adaptation measures and investments
Since inception, 16 climate change adaptation investments, benefiting approximately 32,000 people, particularly women, were realized during the first PBCRG cycle. These interventions included the following:
- Reforestation/afforestation, such as reforestation of degraded reserve forest land along the Akrum and Osubin Rivers and planting of different tree species along streams (5,000).
- Roads or schools and public gardens as a mean of protecting against soil erosion and flooding in the Fanteakwa District.
In Ada East, PBCRGs financed the construction of a mechanized borehole water storage facility, which improved access to water for approximately 1,050 people, and the construction of a wooden bridge. Sensitization activities on climate change and specific trainings on bush fire prevention and early warning systems were held in two of the three MMDAs, reaching approximately 2,200 people.
- It is critical to design the flow of funds and the PBCRG operational mechanism to fully align with the existing system of intergovernmental transfers and to follow the regular public expenditure management cycle. In this way, funds are fully fungible with other resources available locally. In Ghana, PBCRGs are fully aligned and linked with the former DDF and its FOAT. Because the PBCRG is now to be integrated into the District Assemblies Common Fund, it is critical to ensure that LoCAL is aligned and mainstreamed with the new fund and with the Performance Assessment Framework for the Decentralization Sector Wide Approach.
- The development of minimum conditions and performance measures should take into account MMDA mandates and obligations within the legal and regulatory framework. The annual performance assessment revealed a need to review LoCAL minimum conditions, performance measures and indicators to better address adaptation and participation in the MMDAs and to align with the National Development Planning Commission’s guidelines. This was done in the design of Phase II.
- The annual performance assessment also revealed that a robust climate risk assessment is critical to support MMDA participatory planning of adaptation responses to climate change impacts. It should therefore be included under Phase II performance measures. Work is ongoing with the Korea Environment Institute to strengthen climate risk assessments.
- Effective involvement of communities – for example, in the construction of local infrastructure or rehabilitation of ecosystems – can create short-term job opportunities. Cash-for-work opportunities arise through the prioritization of investments in youth, women and other vulnerable groups for sustainable natural resource management, infrastructure building and other public works.
- The Korea Environment Institute is supporting Ghana in undertaking climate risk assessments, through a combined approach of climate modeling and local climate risk assessment.
- The assessments are expected to support participating local government authorities in strengthening their adaptation planning with a view towards prioritizing interventions yielding greater impacts in terms of climate change adaptation and increased resilience of target communities.
- Transfer of funds to the districts will take place in the third quarter of 2019 so investments of the second cycle of Phase I can commence.
- Based on mobilization of further funding, the objective of LoCAL Phase II is to expand the pilot phase and expand the PBCRG mechanism to a larger sample of MMDAs from other parts of the country, particularly those in the north. The design of LoCAL Phase II is aligned with support that MMDAs will receive under the District Performance Assessment Tool transfer system. Phase II will rely on the minimum conditions that are already in the District Assemblies Common Fund Responsiveness Factor Grant. In addition, LoCAL will make use of existing performance measures and complement them with three targeted climate-related performance measures.
- The intention is to scale up to a total of 15 local governments over 2020–2022 (Phase II) to be ready for a national roll-out from 2023 onwards (Phase III). Preparing for Phase III is an integral part of Phase II. Policy advice, readiness support, support for accreditation and adjustments to the design if needed are all foreseen under Output 3 so the country can transition to Phase III and initiate a national roll-out after the three-year period.
Government of Ghana
- Ms. Wasila Sufyan
Senior Development Planning Officer
Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development
- Dr. Abdulai Dramani
Institute of Local Government Service
- Mr. Kwame Owusu-Bonsu
Director, Policy Planning Monitoring and Evaluation, Ministry of Local Government and Rural Development